Wednesday, April 11, 2018

ChiSquatch: Chicago Sasquatch Report #5

This is a series by Karl Sup, researcher who has written many great observations on Bigfoot (right hand side of the blog are links) and the very popular Long Island Bigfoot series. His travels have taken him from Long Island to Chicago. This series kicks off "ChiSquatch" and the search for Bigfoot in Illinois not far from the fringe of the cities.

Suburbs of Chicago, Illinois (Cities Withheld), Late April 2017

The previous week, I was driving by a nearby mulch company and was shocked when I saw two distinct silhouettes positioned on top of the mulch piles. The next day, I stopped into the business. A friendly young gentleman approached my car and asked what type of mulch I was interested in. I explained that I wasn’t in the market for mulch, but their two silhouette figures had piqued my curiosity.

He laughed for a little while, almost to the point of making me feel foolish. He finally caught his breath and proceeded to tell me that one of their truck drivers the prior week, on an early morning delivery run had come back to the yard excited with a hint of terror after his pre-dawn drop. Apparently, the driver had seen a road crossing north of their location on one of the roads that bisect the Preserves. As a joke, the other yard employees cut out the figures and placed them on the mulch to make fun of the driver’s reported incident.

I asked if the driver was on site, and if I could talk to him about it. He said he wasn’t, and didn’t think it would be a good idea unless I was buying mulch. It was a polite way of him asking me to leave, and I obliged. As I left, I felt a sense of great accomplishment that the areas chosen to research had just had a Class A sighting!


Tuesday, April 25th, 2017 began like any other day working in Chicago. I worked late in the office then went out to dinner. I was really worn from the day and headed back to the hotel. I planned to change out of my work clothes and simply relax. I sat down for about 10 minutes, then felt compelled to get out into woods.

I changed the batteries out on the thermal camera. Always load up on fresh batteries! Just the thought of getting out into nature for some fresh air lifted my spirits. I felt invigorated, and practically ran down the hall and out to the rental car; this week, a Jeep Renegade. The sky was in the first throes of dusk, and I wanted to get up into the area I had designated for more research before I lost all daylight. It was 7:45 and the sun had just set.

I drove northbound on the narrow road which skirted the eastern edge of the Forest Preserve areas. I had taken this road at least 40 times over the past 7 months on my weekly rounds to this series of woods. Even when in snow or rain, I would simply take the loop drive through here just in case of a road crossing. Within 1.7 miles of the drive, a railroad track crosses the road. 

On every trip up this shoulder-less two-lane road, when I crossed those railroad tracks, I would slow and look down the tracks which ran toward the northeast. If there was no traffic, I would stop and watch. To the west of the road, the tracks curved southwest and became obscured by vegetation within a quarter-mile. To the east however, my line of sight was over three-quarter mile.

On this evening, as I approached the tracks I was a little disappointed that another car was approaching rapidly from behind me. The speed limit is 35MPH, but drivers frequently travel, on average, around 50MPH. I slowed to 30MPH as I approached the tracks. As the Jeep cleared the vegetation east of the road, I turned my head to look down the tracks as usual modes operandi. Three-hundred feet down the tracks, with a perfect, unabated view, a Sasquatch was in the process of stepping across the railroad bed near a viaduct, moving in northwest to southeast direction.

What immediately caught and focused my attention was the distinct 'V' position of its legs in mid-step. The Sasquatch’s right heel was placed inside the edge of the north rail and its left foot was just inside the southern-most rail. In the brief moments that I viewed the subject, it stepped off the track.

Its right hip rotated as the right leg came around and was just about to plant when roadside vegetation on the north side of the tracks blocked my view. The right leg was dropping in elevation off the rail bed, however it was just a step and wasn't a jump or leap. It was one, steady motion.

It did not cross perpendicular to the tracks, but at slight angle to the east, and was on the eastern side of a viaduct of the north branch of a creek that crossed underneath the track bed. The angle of regress was not enough to see the buttocks, so mainly just the side profile of the subject.

The identification was unmistakable. The subject was black from head to toe, was standing vertically and was exhibiting bipedal locomotion. The body was so darkly covered, that I could not discern hair on the subject from that distance at dusk. My height estimate was approximately 6' tall. It was incredibly stout and bulky. I could only see it in profile and could not see the face. I assume a right ear was facing toward me, but I could not see it. The width of the body was thick and muscular. There was no visual evidence of clothing, a belt line or footwear.

Unfortunately, I could not stop on the road and back up, but based on its movement it would have disappeared into the brush by then, not to mention that I might have been rear-ended by the oncoming traffic.

Excited, but regretting that a dash cam wasn’t pointed out of the passenger window, I continued to the research area and hiked throughout that area in waning dusk. There were quite a number of deer recorded of thermal, with a few anomalous targets that could have been bedding deer. I hiked out in complete darkness with the use of the thermal. The partly overcast sky and light pollution of the suburbs wasn't sufficient to see in the night.

I headed back to the hotel for the night, and stopped at the tracks to take a thermal image. The concrete from the viaduct showed very warm on the FLIR. Once back to the hotel, I let local Illinois BFRO investigator Stan Courtney know about what I witnessed. I also informed members in my research group immediately after the sighting. I must admit, it was a little hard to sleep. This was my seventh sighting, and my fourth sighting in daytime hours with the naked eye.

The next day, I had to head to the airport. On my way out of the office, I drove past the railroad crossing and took some daytime photos of the area. I walked down the tracks to the location of the crossing. Just as I got to the viaduct, I could hear the whistle of an approaching train not far in the distance. 

My quick observation down the hillside showed sharp, angular rail bed rip rap stones and lots of slide material along with lots of disturbance in the dirt off the rail bed. The ground was dry but no distinct footprints were visible. I quickly ran back to the car to avoid being a statistic or replaying the scene from the movie, "Stand By Me," besides, trying to run on railroad ties is not the easiest thing to do!

The next week I returned on Monday to torrential rains inundating the Chicago area. By Tuesday evening the skies were starting to clear and I was able to get back to the railroad tracks for an investigation and better photographs.

I parked to the west of the road, crossed over and walked down the tracks once again to the viaduct. The creek was now flowing deeper and faster than it had on the past Wednesday. I had come straight from work, and still had on my inappropriate-for-hiking dress shoes. The rail bed rip rap stones were sharp and angular and made for some treacherous steps. The stone extended, plus or minus, 12 feet off the edge of the railroad ties.

I visualized the subject's initial pose, and estimated that the front of its left foot was at least 8 inches inside the south rail. Both the left and right foot were within the rail width of 56-1/2 inches in a perfect stepping pose.

Not knowing the foot size would make it impossible to measure exact stride, which is measured heel-to-heel. I guessed on the location of where the foot landed as it stepped off the tracks, and it appeared that the distance from the left to the right heel would have been about 30 inches.

Replicating the backtrack of the estimated step width on the north inner side of the rail would have approximately placed the right foot on the immediate south side of the railroad tie. This did not make sense to me. If I was walking up the slope on the east side of the creek, I would have planted on the outer railroad tie for maximum push off. There is 14 inches of overhang of the railroad tie on each side of the rail. This isn't what I witnessed.

It's unfortunate that I didn't get to see this uphill step.

I would have to assume since I saw it's left and right foot planted within the rails that it would need clearance as it stepped over the height of the rail. My recreation planted my foot 8 inches south of the north rail.

Using simple math; a 56.5 rail width minus 8 inches space by the north rail, and 8 inches before the south rail would leave 40.5 inches between the right heel and left toes. Estimating a foot length of 10 inches would provide gap of 20.5 inches and a stride of 30.5 inches. Of course, the stride may have been modified due to the constraints of ground obstacles.

However, this fits the profile of a juvenile subject and the height/foot size ratio proposedby Sharon Day.

After recovering from re-enacting the steps, I walked through the rip rap gingerly to the south. The area between the tracks and where the stone ended was depressed and rippled from what I believe was multiple steps into it. I took a photo at the level of the tracks to give perspective of the steepness of the railroad grade. I’m not sure I could scramble up the steep grade. Looking down the slope to the south also provided a pleasant surprise.

I expected that the weekend rains would have erased any prints from seven days earlier. The rain had turned the dirt below into a spongy, loose loam. In the muck was not prints left from a week ago, but fresh prints. My guess would be no older than 24 hours, likely fresher based on the amount of rain we received that day. The prints were small, deep and exhibited a very small stride, likely due to the steep incline.

I tried to get down to examine them closer, however the ground under the rip rap wanted to sink and felt very unstable. I could only imagine how the muddy area below would react. It also felt like I would fall straight down, and my shoes weren't helping the situation at all. I had to settle for taking my version of an aerial photo by reaching my arm out over the void and snapping some photos of the prints. There were a number of deer tracks that were much shallower, but it
was the deep, inline tracks that intrigued me greatly.

I barely could make my way back up to the rail bed and began looking for a way to get down the incline. There was no feasible way to get down there without injury or in the best case scenario, an incredibly dirty ending.

I had other errands to run that evening including dinner and making some cactus salsa for a Cinco de Mayo party at the office for my co-workers, and it was almost 7pm so I decided to leave the area. I walked back down the tracks to cross the road where I had parked my car. Just as I stepped off the tracks near the road, a Cook County Sheriff officer drove by. My activity had piqued his interest. Fortunately I was let off with a warning that I shouldn't play on the tracks, especially after 9/11. I think that wearing the Florsheim dress shoes finally paid off.

I have driven by many times since then, without another sighting and I'll continue to observe this specific area. I suspect that I could pass by the tracks another 3000 times and not be so fortunate again. Now that I know they are crossing the tracks by the creek with some frequency, I hope to set up a camera. It is railroad property as the sheriff deputy kindly reminded me, so I may need to secure permission.

So, the final questions I had for this sighting was: Why would this Bigfoot be traveling across these tracks? And why do they (apparently) continue to travel that route? What was so unique about that location?

I believed that the creek was key to the answer, so I went to Google Earth to look for some further analysis with an overhead view of the area. The drainage and creek originated about a half mile to the east-northeast from the crossing area. The creek formed a wild, natural, impenetrable border to the south and east of the tracks. The railroad provided a perfect barrier, as I highly doubt that any sane human would attempt the steep and treacherous grade and rocks of crossing the railroad bed. Deer and other wildlife appear to cross the tracks, but humans would have no real reason to infiltrate that area.

The creek flowed through a large viaduct under the road, which allowed unseen, bidirectional access to the larger Forest Preserve. The only areas of vulnerability were the banks of the creek between the road and the railroad grade and tracks. There was a lot of vegetation choking the banks of the creek that provided great cover, and the viaduct under the tracks could even be used if the water level was lower in the creek. I know that Sasquatch are great swimmers; traversing distances between British Columbia mainland and Vancouver Island, and even across Long Island Sound. I suspect they don’t like the railroad viaduct because it would require getting completely submersed. In the summertime that might not be a problem, but in temperamental spring weather, hypothermia might be a factor.

I think the inaccessible area is place of innate safety. The denseness of vegetation and relative isolation is an ideal place to bed down without fear of discovery.

I began to reason, if they are moving in between this inaccessible area and the woods they must have a destination in the woods. I traced the creek back through a canopy of trees deep into the Forest Preserve, to discover that it emptied into the larger creek that wends north-south through the entire series of Preserves. 

In another ‘train’ of thought, I recalled that Stan Courtney had mentioned a daytime sighting he had while investigating a friend’s report about activity near the rail lines. Excerpted from his website,

While there, Mike was adamant that the Sasquatch were hopping rides on the trains. I was somewhat taken aback by the idea. I had never read of a report or knew of anyone who actually had seen a Sasquatch riding on a rail-car. The whole idea seemed a little bit unbelievable to me. I asked Mike why he believed that, and had he witnessed that happening? He said no, but the way he had seen the Sasquatch kind of standing around on this one section of track just gave him the idea, it was just “a theory he had.”

As we were walking back to the car a northbound train started approaching.

As the train was approaching I positioned myself so that I could get as close as possible but still be out of danger. I wanted to take in all the sounds and feel of this wonderful machine as it passed by. As it passed, Mike yelled for me to look north at each coupling area and he would look south so if anything or anyone was riding there we could see them from two different angles.

It was one of those trains carrying large cargo carriers, double-decker style. It was travelling at perhaps 30 mph. In between each car is a good size area. About half way through the train I saw a very large hair covered animal sitting down with its back towards the container. I only could see it for a couple of seconds and then it was gone.

I was in shock and awe. It was almost surreal. It did not look at all like Patty from the Patterson-Gimlin Film. This had five inch long dark brown hair covering it down to where I could see, its waist. I couldn’t make out any facial details and it was looking down and not directly towards me.

This sighting has left me with more questions than answers. In my mind Sasquatch (or at least one) do ride on trains. Why? Is this just some daredevil stunt by a teenage Sasquatch or is this a pattern of something much larger? Is this just a local 1/2 mile hitch or are they traveling greater distances? It does show one thing for sure. Their intelligence and abilities are far higher than many having been willing to admit.

Talking with Stan, he was excited about my sighting and deeply animated about what he saw during his own encounter. Perhaps they used this stretch of freight rail as a ‘boarding’ station. Who knows? That is a more plausible scenario than encountering King’s Cross Station platform 9-3/4 from Harry Potter.

I decided to concede the ‘Inaccessible Area’ to the Sasquatch (mainly because I want to respect their home and also because it would be very difficult to bushwhack into that area) to focus my limited time and energies on researching ‘downstream’ into the Preserve.

Little did I realize the extent of the upcoming consequences of that decision!

Karl Sup is a software architect, developer and analyst, and an avid Bigfoot researcher working in the mountains of Arizona for many years. During this research and in other states including New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maryland, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Georgia and Wisconsin, he has been fortunate enough to interact with and view multiple subjects over the years. Karl also has had decades of audio analysis and editing experience, and assisted in helping M.K. Davis clean up and enhance audio from VHS tapes he had been studying and discovered the presence of infrasound within those recordings.

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